The Salon des Antiquaires did not open until 10h – how agreable to have breakfast at a reasonable hour, rather than creeping about before dawn! I wasn’t particularly intending to buy at the Salon, but wanted see the chateau again….. Down the allée of lime trees, past the cows and the tractor sheds. Heavy dew and gentle drizzle. The taciturn groundsman directed us to park in a field already peppered with white vans. In brown overall and flat cap, he had something about him of a 19th century gamekeeper. Capucine, his spaniel, was over excited and was sharply called to heel. His mood was not improving.
Three new rooms had been opened up on the ground floor since my last visit, unadorned stone walls, worn flagstones, and great stone hearths. Michelle Lefol, was now running the chateau on her own. These rooms had once been the private apartment of her parents. Dealers were setting up in here and also on the first floor, up the marvellous stone staircase, still in its original condition with plaster just hanging on in places and a frayed rope hand rail. The chateau felt full, satisfied, content to be embracing furniture and beautiful objets again.
I was delighted to come across two dealers known from Le Mans. With their love of 18th century style, they had set out parchment letters in faded brown ink on a burnished fruitwood desk. A bathing chair was draped with old linen and a block of Savon de Marseilles. A portrait of a gentleman, with kind eyes and a gentle expression, a little lace at his collar, stopped me in my tracks.
Carrots were also the theme, with two large fairground carousel rabbits displayed on a bed of fine carrots with their green tops. I cannot leave without the portrait, and I also buy a long 18th century bench. Tiny bone dice less than one centimetre across are scattered across an 18th century table. How much are they? I ask. Madame shakes her head, they are not for sale. But she reaches down and scoops up a few and offers them to me. “Cadeau,” she said, with a warm smile. “Bring your van into the courtyard so we can load the bench.” The gamekeeper (and Capucine) direct us under the stone arch and into the magnificent courtyard of this three storey chateau with steep slate roofs and a turret, with huge barns on three sides. Two rabbit heads are visible through one window – a Lewis Carroll vignette. A little sun finds its way between rain clouds and Graham and I find a seat at the courtyard café for coffee and home made plum tart, still warm from the oven.